Recovering from a heart attack is tough enough without facing depression. Yet that's exactly what happens to nearly half of heart attack survivors. Depression after a heart attack isn't a one-size-fits-all classification. Different variations have different effects on the heart and recovery, reports the issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.
People with post-heart attack depression are two to three times more likely to have another heart attack or to die prematurely compared with survivors who don't have depression. Depression that occurs for the first time during recovery from a heart attack appears to be more dangerous than depression that started before the attack.
Depression arises for various reasons. In some people, depression and heart disease may reflect a genetic vulnerability that can trigger both conditions. Depression that first appears after a heart attack may represent fear of dying or grief over loss of health. Fear and grief don't necessarily respond to the same treatment strategies, so figuring out the cause of the problem may help in finding the right therapy.
The Harvard Heart Letter notes that breaking out of depression on your own can be tough. Standard treatment includes talk therapy and medication. If those don't help, ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist who can help sort out your thoughts and hit on a more specific treatment.
Some physicians see depression after a heart attack as an understandable reaction that will go away as you get better. It is usually much more than that. Regardless of its origin, getting help is good for your heart, your health, and your life.